What Does it Mean When a Stray Cat Comes to Your House?

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I decided to sit down and write this article today because we’ve been dealing with a stray male cat hanging around our house for a few days now. Our neighborhood has quite a few strays as well as outdoor cats that have homes so it can be difficult to tell which is which. Have you ever wondered why a cat will show up at your house and just make itself at home? What does it mean when a stray cat comes to your house?

These are both questions I’ll try and answer for you in this article. First I’ll give you some possibilities and likely scenarios as to why this cat has shown up. Then we’ll look at the options you have if the cat is persistent and doesn’t move on.

Let’s get into into it, shall we?

What does it mean when a stray cat comes to your house?

There are several reasons why cats show up at houses uninvited, but it’s not always easy to know what a cat wants. In the below list we’ll look at some of the most common reasons why a stray cat would come to your house, as well as a few less common ones.

1. Food

Most often, strays are constantly looking for their next meal because they do not have a reliable food source. Strays will usually stick to one neighborhood and have some regular houses that they go to for scraps. Your house may have made the cat’s list for some reason.

2. Shelter/home

Stray cats aren’t the same as feral cats. Strays were once in someone’s home and have since been abandoned. It is quite possible that in addition to food and water, this cat that is hanging around your house is looking for a new home and shelter.

3. Marking it’s territory

Male cats are very territorial. They will mark their territory by spraying urine on trees and other objects. If they have marked your house and yard as part of their territory, then they have a reason for it. That leads us to #4.

4. Looking for female in heat

For most animals everything comes down to food and water, shelter, and mating. Cats are no different. If this stray cat has been hanging around your house has been spraying nearby, then it’s quite possible that he is trying to gain the attention of a female to mate with.

5. Curiosity

It’s always possible that your feline visitor is only curious. It’s possible that he lives a couple houses down from yours and isn’t actually a stray but an outside cat that roams the neighborhood. However if the cat has been very persistent and yowling or spraying, he wants something and it’s less likely that he’s simply “curious”.

6. Spiritual meaning

If you are into spiritual meanings, then it is believed by some that a stray cat showing up at your house can be an omen. It’s unclear if the omen would be bad or good, but it is believed that a black cat showing up at your house is what has spiritual meaning.

What to do about a stray cat showing up at your house (7 options)

1. Hope it moves on

Whether you’re already a cat owner or not, you can’t make the decision to start taking care of a stray cat lightly. It’s a big commitment, not only financially but taking care of a pet is a huge responsibility.

You can let the stray inspect your house, decide there’s no food or shelter available, and move on of his own accord. It’s sad, but every stray is not your problem.

2. Offer it food

If the cat seems particularly hungry, or even worse like it might be taking care of kittens, then you can offer it food. Just know that if you choose to offer a stray cat food it will likely keep coming back and consider your house its new home. You will essentially be adopting the stray if you feed it.

3. Find its owner

If the cat is wearing a collar or appears to be someone’s lost pet, then you can attempt to find its owner. Many pets are microchipped allowing the owner to be tracked down, or you could take to social media and hope you get lucky.

4. Find it a new owner

If you tried finding the cat’s owner successfully, then you could attempt to find it a new owner. This is tricky though, you’d have to find the right person.

Most people aren’t going to take an unknown stray cat into their home without it first going to the vet. It’ll need to be up to date on shots and have a flea bath if it has been living outside. So either you or the new owner would be responsible for doing this.

5. Partially adopt it

When I say partially adopt, I simply mean adopting the stray, but only as an outside cat. This option will still require you taking the cat to the vet to get treated and checkout out, but the cat would live outside.

If you chose to take in a stray in this manner, the cat would still be your responsibility.

My mom did this with a couple of different stray cats. She made friends with the cat she’d been feeding, and eventually ended up taking it to the vet. They even built a heated outdoor cat house on their back porch.

Here’s a heated outdoor cat house for strays on Amazon that would work great for an outdoor cat.

6. Adopt it

If you’ve formed a bond with the cat or for whatever reason you want to take the cat in as your pet, then you can adopt it. If you decide to adopt a stray cat then you’ll need to do a few things before you just let it in the house.

  • Get a cat carrier and take the cat to the vet
  • Find out if it belongs to anyone
  • Make sure the cat is up to date on all shots
  • And has been treated for fleas

7. Take it to a shelter/Human Society

The majority of animals that enter an animal shelter are euthanized, it’s a fact. Though many do get adopted. If you simply can’t take in a stray cat, or find a new owner, then this is certainly an option. Would the cat have better chances roaming the neighborhood, or a chance at finding a real home?

There are an estimated 86 million pet cats living in people’s homes in the United States. At the same time, there are tens of millions of unowned cats roaming the outdoors in search of food and shelter.

Here is the Human Society’s stance on unowned cats and cat overpopulation.

You can visit Pet Search to find an animal shelter near you.


As we learned in this article, a stray cat is likely in search of 3 things: food, shelter, or a mate. Past that, things get less likely. Though some believe that a stray cat showing up at your door could be an omen…

As for me, I think in most cases it wants a meal or a new home. Either way I hoped this article has given you a little bit of insight into what your new visitor might want, and what your options are.

Thanks for reading!